Docent Bohumil Seifert, head of Institute of General Practice
In 1974, I was not accepted by the then Faculty of General Medicine and having been a star student in secondary school, I had a hard time coping with it. After a year of working as an orderly, I went to study paediatric medicine at the Faculty of Paediatric Medicine in Motol. Theoretical instruction at both faculties took place in the same institutes and I met the same teachers and examiners as my friends from the Faculty of General Medicine. They then also took me to the softball team of TJ Medicína, which had been founded by a group of students around Professor Petr Widimský, the current dean of the Third Faculty of Medicine. Many personalities of Czech medicine and public life spent some time with this sports and social institution of the 1970s and 1980s.
After graduation, I was well prepared to start working as a children’s doctor and I also actually worked as a paediatrician for a while. But my real desire, to do a truly general medicine close to people, could only be satisfied with the broadest of medical fields, general practical medicine. Later on, in the 1990s, I started participating in postgraduate teaching and gained some new experience abroad. For the first time, I met professors of primary care and encountered academic practical medicine. I really admired university departments of general medicine in England, the Netherlands, and in Scandinavia. I came to see new avenues in my medical fields and saw new challenges I should tackle.
In 2003, I finally had a chance to implement what I learned abroad and admired so much. Paradoxically, this came at a time when I was recovering from the effects of the flood which devastated my newly furnished office in Karlín. At that time, Professor Štěpán Svačina offered me a position in the Institute of General Medicine of the First Faculty of Medicine. I took it and never regretted my decision to join the academia. When I accepted an academic post, I had to reorganise my life, provide for my medical practice, put together a team of collaborators, and establish a teaching programme, but also start a journey towards meeting certain academic demands which any head of institute had to meet: to write a dissertation and receive a habilitation. Now I am grateful to the First Faculty of Medicine for not being easy on me in this respect.
I am grateful for the support which our institute received from the Faculty. My colleagues and I, in our turn, managed to show that we can not only introduce our medical field to students and contribute to their professional and personal growth, but also meet other standards of an academic institution, such as research activity, implementation of projects, and publication output.
To head an institute at our Faculty is an obligation. The First Faculty of Medicine is a unique academic institution whose wealth and greatness stems from being part of a historic university, in a strong tradition and place where it resides, but above all in its people who embody culture and education. My aim is to make sure that the Institute of General Medicine will be just as unique and show the way to departments and institutes of general medicine at other medical faculties in the Czech Republic.
Academic work has enriched me as a person, physician, teacher, researcher, and organiser. I got to personally meet physicians, teachers, and scientists I previously knew only from books and lectures. Some became my friends, others even entrusted their health to my care, while others function as consultants for my patients. As a medic, I learned from my teachers, after graduation, I learned from my colleagues, and in my practice, I learned from patients. At the faculty, I learn from my students, both domestic and international ones. With them, I go back to the principles of medicine. And I get inspired by my colleagues’ shared enthusiasm for teaching medicine.
In the colours of our Faculty, we can conquer the world. Institutions under the First Faculty of Medicine are attractive and reliable partners for international project consortiums. International and interdisciplinary research projects offer an opportunity to meet outstanding physicians, scientists, and project managers, and to acquire new contacts for future collaboration both here and abroad. The Faculty also organises a festival of offers of international collaboration and projects, more than our small institute could act upon. It is also well known that our students get from the Faculty the widest range of international internships and study stays.
Thanks to the facilities of the First Faculty of Medicine and under the auspices of our dean, Professor Aleksi Šedo, I was able to acquire and organise in Prague two conferences for the Society of General Practice, namely the WONCA World 2013 and WONCA Europe 2017 conference. In June 2013, representatives of young general practitioners from all over the world had for the first time met in the auditorium of our Faculty.
But coming back to the beginning ... I could see my career at the First Faculty of Medicine as a sort of satisfaction. But that is not the way I see it. The times were different and so was the Faculty. The current Faculty gives me an opportunity to contribute with my medical specialty to the development of medical studies and Czech medicine in general.